Government Incompetence and Deadly Recklessness in Ebola Threat Response

Within the span of a couple of weeks, the Obama administration and the director of the CDC have proven themselves to be dangerously incompetent and reckless in dealing with the deadly threat that the Ebola virus poses to the American people. Despite feeding us politically-correct bromides that we have little to fear from Ebola and Obama’s personal reassurances that “the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low,” Ebola has reached America. People are infected, some are under quarantine, many more are being monitored, and one has already died. 

Just last week, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lectured the American people that closing the border “would not work” in controlling the spread of Ebola to the United States. In classic Orwellian newspeak he warned that restricting travel to and from West Africa would put Americans more at risk of contracting Ebola.

Appearing on MSNBC, Frieden was asked about potentially prohibiting air travel between the U.S. and West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak is most widespread. He said that such a restriction would likely be ineffective and would make it harder for health officials to root out the virus.

“The only way we’re going to get to zero risk is by stopping the outbreak at the source” in West Africa, Frieden said.

“Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn’t work,” the top health official added. “People have a right to return. People transiting through could come in. And it would backfire, because by isolating these countries, it’ll make it harder to help them, it will spread more there and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.”

Now the CDC director finally admits that the Ebola outbreak is deadly serious. To address these immediate and potentially catastrophic dangers, the government proposes to start temperature checks on passengers coming in from West Africa by the end of this week at only one airport. They will then gradually start rolling this at other major airports. This will be done in addition to the sporadic questioning and screenings those passengers now receive. 

The U.S. government also announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.

The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.

The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.

The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

However, these measures are recklessly inadequate. As we’ve seen, people tend to lie to protect themselves and escape government scrutiny. Many will simply lie to avoid quarantine and face denial of entry into the United States. Even worse, those temperature checks the White House and the CDC are touting suffer from a major flaw:

Experts cautioned that a temperature check on arrival would almost certainly not have detected that Mr. Duncan had Ebola before he entered the country. The disease typically incubates for eight to 10 days before symptoms, including fever, develop.

It’s unlikely a fever check would have spotted Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning. Duncan wasn’t yet showing symptoms when he arrived in the U.S.

Speaking by teleconference with mayors and local officials, Obama said he was confident the U.S. could prevent an outbreak. But he warned them to be vigilant.

How’s that for a non-solution Orwellian "solution" from our leadership!  

Meanwhile, we assume, Ebola will pause infecting people and refuse to come to America as it incubates for almost 10 days escaping detection. And regarding those 10% of passengers that will not screened, it appears that Obama’s strategy of “keep our fingers crossed and hope they’re Ebola free” will have to do for now. After all, “hope and change” he promised, hope and change we’re getting!

Of course, the most commonsense, logical, and safe solution is not even being considered by the CDC or the Obama administration.  First, stop all flights from West Africa immediately. Second, institute a mandatory 30-day quarantine for anyone else coming from West Africa starting now.

How many more innocent Americans have to suffer and die before the incompetent and reckless bureaucrats running the country do the right thing? If they refuse to protect us when the danger is so obvious and the solution so simple, how can they be trusted when deadlier threats arise and the solutions will be much more complicated. Don’t they realize that their own children and families are also potential victims?  Ebola does not care about party affiliations, religious beliefs, or ethnic backgrounds.

Chris Banescu regularly blogs at www.chrisbanescu.com and www.orthodoxnet.com/blog.

Within the span of a couple of weeks, the Obama administration and the director of the CDC have proven themselves to be dangerously incompetent and reckless in dealing with the deadly threat that the Ebola virus poses to the American people. Despite feeding us politically-correct bromides that we have little to fear from Ebola and Obama’s personal reassurances that “the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low,” Ebola has reached America. People are infected, some are under quarantine, many more are being monitored, and one has already died. 

Just last week, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lectured the American people that closing the border “would not work” in controlling the spread of Ebola to the United States. In classic Orwellian newspeak he warned that restricting travel to and from West Africa would put Americans more at risk of contracting Ebola.

Appearing on MSNBC, Frieden was asked about potentially prohibiting air travel between the U.S. and West Africa, where the Ebola outbreak is most widespread. He said that such a restriction would likely be ineffective and would make it harder for health officials to root out the virus.

“The only way we’re going to get to zero risk is by stopping the outbreak at the source” in West Africa, Frieden said.

“Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn’t work,” the top health official added. “People have a right to return. People transiting through could come in. And it would backfire, because by isolating these countries, it’ll make it harder to help them, it will spread more there and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.”

Now the CDC director finally admits that the Ebola outbreak is deadly serious. To address these immediate and potentially catastrophic dangers, the government proposes to start temperature checks on passengers coming in from West Africa by the end of this week at only one airport. They will then gradually start rolling this at other major airports. This will be done in addition to the sporadic questioning and screenings those passengers now receive. 

The U.S. government also announced it was expanding airport examinations to guard against the spread of the deadly disease.

The checks will include taking the temperatures of hundreds of travelers arriving from West Africa at five major American airports.

The new screenings will begin Saturday at New York’s JFK International Airport and then expand to Washington Dulles and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. An estimated 150 people per day will be checked, using high-tech thermometers that don’t touch the skin.

The White House said the fever checks would reach more than 9 of 10 travelers to the U.S. from the three heaviest-hit countries -- Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

However, these measures are recklessly inadequate. As we’ve seen, people tend to lie to protect themselves and escape government scrutiny. Many will simply lie to avoid quarantine and face denial of entry into the United States. Even worse, those temperature checks the White House and the CDC are touting suffer from a major flaw:

Experts cautioned that a temperature check on arrival would almost certainly not have detected that Mr. Duncan had Ebola before he entered the country. The disease typically incubates for eight to 10 days before symptoms, including fever, develop.

It’s unlikely a fever check would have spotted Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital Wednesday morning. Duncan wasn’t yet showing symptoms when he arrived in the U.S.

Speaking by teleconference with mayors and local officials, Obama said he was confident the U.S. could prevent an outbreak. But he warned them to be vigilant.

How’s that for a non-solution Orwellian "solution" from our leadership!  

Meanwhile, we assume, Ebola will pause infecting people and refuse to come to America as it incubates for almost 10 days escaping detection. And regarding those 10% of passengers that will not screened, it appears that Obama’s strategy of “keep our fingers crossed and hope they’re Ebola free” will have to do for now. After all, “hope and change” he promised, hope and change we’re getting!

Of course, the most commonsense, logical, and safe solution is not even being considered by the CDC or the Obama administration.  First, stop all flights from West Africa immediately. Second, institute a mandatory 30-day quarantine for anyone else coming from West Africa starting now.

How many more innocent Americans have to suffer and die before the incompetent and reckless bureaucrats running the country do the right thing? If they refuse to protect us when the danger is so obvious and the solution so simple, how can they be trusted when deadlier threats arise and the solutions will be much more complicated. Don’t they realize that their own children and families are also potential victims?  Ebola does not care about party affiliations, religious beliefs, or ethnic backgrounds.

Chris Banescu regularly blogs at www.chrisbanescu.com and www.orthodoxnet.com/blog.